Review #130: (Classic Album) The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

Artist – The Smashing Pumpkins
Album – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995)

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The Smashing Pumpkins are an alternative rock band from Chicago, USA. Formed in 1988 by Billy Corgan – lead vocals/guitar and James Iha – guitar, the band at their most prolific included D’arcy Wretzky – bass and Jimmy Chamberlin – drums, but have changed line-ups a great deal over the years. Smashing Pumpkins have become an inspiration to many bands, mainly due to their decision to change and grow musically. Rather than sticking to alt-rock the band have delved into electronica, heavy metal, shoegazing, gothic and the list goes on. This mix of styles is most prevalent on their critically acclaimed gigantic double album ‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness’.

Undoubtedly The Smashing Pumpkins most critically praised album and consistently noted as one of the greatest double albums to date ‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness’ has become a staple in any alt-rock lovers collection. For a start this album features most of Smashing Pumpkins biggest hits in ‘Tonight, tonight’, ‘1979’, ‘Zero’ and ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’. The diversity in genre, instrumentation, songwriting and dynamics is also a key feature which keeps an album with 28 songs from sounding stale and boring. We go from the beautifully orchestrated ‘Tonight, tonight’ with its calm acoustic verses and  epic string/brass/percussion filled choruses to heavy rock tracks such as ‘Zero’, featuring a blistering effects driven guitar solo and an almost Dave Grohl style drum performance. Billy Corgan’s signature ‘whinny’ vocal tone/delivery became most prevalent on this album as well I feel, cementing him as interesting and different vocally in comparison to other similar rock singers around at the time. As with most of the bands work there is a theme to this album, having one half represent day and the other night, whilst it also being based upon “The human condition of mortal sorrow”. Corgan has however stated that this isn’t a concept album, that it is more vague than their previous releases, which can be seen in the very odd but thought provoking album title, song titles, lyrics and artwork.

‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness’ can easily be put up against the greatest of double albums, which is a strong group (The White Album, Electric Ladyland). It is a diverse, creative, catchy and innovative album, components which many artists struggle to achieve all in one.


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